When it comes to exercise, the old “nature vs. nurture” question may now be settled. A recent study by biologists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), suggests that voluntary physical activity participation may be all about the genes. The scientists selectively bred mice to determine whether physical capacity is an inheritable trait. According to a UCR press release, “Their experiments showed that mice that were bred to be high runners produced high-running offspring, indicating that the offspring had inherited the trait for activity.” There also appeared to be an adaptation difference between male and female mice. The females increased daily running distance almost entirely by speed; males increased speed, too, but they also ran more minutes per day. “[This study] shows that ‘there are many ways to skin a cat’: different ways in which a species may evolve a similar adaptive characteristic—running activity, in this case,” concluded the study authors. The study was published online September 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (2010; doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1584).

For more information on heredity and exercise, read “Epiginetics and Heredity” in the Making News section of the June 2010 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.